Tuesday poem: These greatest hits

May 7, 2012

These greatest hits
unfurling themselves beige flags
four four drumming
and I download white noise
to erase familiar grate

P.S. Cottier

So you’re out shopping, right? And out of each shop comes a different appalling noise, threatening to strangle you. You feel like running away and hiding. In the supermarket they have a pretend radio station broadcasting ads for the entire stock of that wondrous supermarket źbetween ultra-insipid whiter than beige music, scraping away at your ear-strings, subtle as an un-oiled trolley. The same over-enthusiastic voice extolling the wonders of detergent until you wonder if this is in fact hell, and the unseen she who is spruiking is in fact a cleaner, brighter Mephistopheles. Or proper commercial radio entertains you in the shop of your choosing, which in Canberra includes advertisements for brothels, sorry, Gentlemen’s Clubs… And you’re just trying to buy yourself some cosmetics…And you don’t want to be impaling yourself on thoughts of patriarchy, just finding exactly the right shade of lipstick.

And again and again it’s Flashdance or Elton John or Sheena Easton or chiselled Flame Trees, punctuated by McDonalds or Hungry Jacks or the local roof repair man who does his own ads (‘Call and ask for ME!’) and really shouldn’t. You try and tell yourself that it could be worse, that it could be Christmas with Rudolf and the long-horn gang, banging at your ears in American accents, but that’s only a theoretical worse; for the moment this is as bad as it gets. So you duck into the chemist (avoiding the vapid waft of Fleetwood Mac sprayed like a cheap perfume) and buy earplugs.

And when you get home you try and find white noise to download, but at least, at least, it occurs to you that with your iPod in, people won’t think you’re odd, even if you’re listening to nothing at all, not a single half-chewed byte, but just your own thoughts and the muffled beating of your calmer heart.
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8 Responses to “Tuesday poem: These greatest hits”

  1. I was amazed when I first visited Melbourne and experienced this aural onslaught from every shop – it doesn’t sound as though things have changed much in that regard.

    I am fond of those chiselled Flame Trees though – apparently there’s nothing else to set fire to the town. (Jimmy Barnes and Don Walker from Cold Chisel make an uncredited cameo appearance in one of my stories, so I feel obliged to stand up for them.)

    Getting a bit late to post my Tuesday poem now – will have to wait for the morning. It’s set on the wild West Coast of the South Island, where smoke from bush-fires in Australia turns the summer sunsets red…

  2. PS: At the risk of taking the discussion even further away from this fine poem, it turns out – as you may already know – that there is rather a strong connection between Don Walker and some very successful Australian authors: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/kibble-literary-award-stays-in-the-family-as-daughter-follows-in-light-of-mother/story-e6frg6nf-1226103018309

    • pscottier said

      Flame Trees is not a bad song; but after you’ve heard it 500 times it makes an ashtray of your ears, Tim. It’s the lack of consent, I suppose, that makes all the difference. (Something I touch upon in my less than subtle rant. Can one have a subtle rant?)

      Thanks for the information about the literary women of the Walker clan. I had missed that, somehow. Must. Remove. Earplugs.

      • pscottier said

        And if your poem is called Flame Skies (of Westland) please don’t post it! (-: (Penelope fears geographical naming faux pas, but lets it stand.)

  3. A. J. said

    Great rant – really enjoyed it. Feel that way every time I walk into a mall – but I gather we don’t get the half of it here. Commiserations.

  4. I too enjoyed the rant. I see it as a prose poem with gusto. Love the long horned gang!

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